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Trade and Minimum Wages in General Equilibrium: Theory and Evidence

Author

Listed:
  • Xue Bai
  • Arpita Chatterjee
  • Kala Krishna
  • Hong Ma

Abstract

Do minimum wages affect economic outcomes beyond low-skill employment? This paper develops a new model with heterogeneous firms under perfect competition in a Heckscher-Ohlin setting to show that a binding minimum wage raises product prices, encourages substitution away from labor, and creates unemployment. It reduces output and exports of the labor intensive good, despite higher prices and, less obviously, selection in the labor (capital) intensive sector becomes stricter (weaker). Exploiting rich regional variation in minimum wages across Chinese prefectures and using Chinese Customs data matched with firm level production data, we find robust evidence in support of causal effects of minimum wage consistent with our theoretical predictions.

Suggested Citation

  • Xue Bai & Arpita Chatterjee & Kala Krishna & Hong Ma, 2018. "Trade and Minimum Wages in General Equilibrium: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 24456, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24456
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Yi Huang & Prakash Loungani & Gewei Wang, 2014. "Minimum wages and firm employment: evidence from China," Globalization Institute Working Papers 173, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, revised 01 Apr 2014.
    2. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1994. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast-Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 772-793, September.
    3. DiNardo, John & Fortin, Nicole M & Lemieux, Thomas, 1996. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(5), pages 1001-1044, September.
    4. Joan Monras, 2019. "Minimum Wages and Spatial Equilibrium: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(3), pages 853-904.
    5. Timothy J. Kehoe & Kim J. Ruhl, 2013. "How Important Is the New Goods Margin in International Trade?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 121(2), pages 358-392.
    6. David Neumark, 2017. "The Employment Effects of Minimum Wages: Some Questions We Need to Answer," NBER Working Papers 23584, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Harald Hau & Yi Huang & Gewei Wang, 2016. "Firm Response to Competitive Shocks: Evidence from China’s Minimum Wage Policy," Swiss Finance Institute Research Paper Series 16-47, Swiss Finance Institute.
    8. Justin Caron & Thibault Fally & James R. Markusen, 2014. "International Trade Puzzles: A Solution Linking Production and Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(3), pages 1501-1552.
    9. Christian Moser & Niklas Engbom, 2016. "Earnings Inequality and the Minimum Wage: Evidence from Brazil," 2016 Meeting Papers 72, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    10. Albert G. Schweinberger, 1978. "Employment Subsidies and the Theory of Minimum Wage Rates in General Equilibrium," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 92(3), pages 361-374.
    11. Tony Fang & Carl Lin, 2015. "Minimum wages and employment in China," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-30, December.
    12. Davis, Donald R, 1998. "Does European Unemployment Prop Up American Wages? National Labor Markets and Global Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 478-494, June.
    13. Ekaterina Jardim & Mark C. Long & Robert Plotnick & Emma van Inwegen & Jacob Vigdor & Hilary Wething, 2017. "Minimum Wage Increases, Wages, and Low-Wage Employment: Evidence from Seattle," NBER Working Papers 23532, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Gan, Li & Hernandez, Manuel A. & Ma, Shuang, 2016. "The higher costs of doing business in China: Minimum wages and firms' export behavior," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 81-94.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sugata Marjit & Shrimoyee Ganguly & Rajat Acharyya, 2020. "Minimum Wage, Trade and Unemployment in General Equilibrium," CESifo Working Paper Series 8090, CESifo.

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    JEL classification:

    • H0 - Public Economics - - General

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